Foundations of Greenhouse Theory Challenged by New Analysis of Solar System Observations

Posted: June 1, 2017 by tallbloke in Analysis, Astrophysics, atmosphere, climate, data, Maths, Measurement, modelling, Natural Variation, physics, predictions, radiative theory, research, solar system dynamics, Temperature, Thermodynamics

N-KFig_4

Back in late 2011, the Talkshop splashed the story on a ‘Unified Theory of Climate’  developed by PhD physicists Ned Nikolov and Karl Zeller. They set out to show that the ‘greenhouse effect’ is not a phenomenon arising out of the absorption and reemission of outgoing long-wave radiation by the atmosphere (as thought for 190 years), but is a form of compression heating controlled by solar radiation and the total atmospheric pressure at the Earth’s surface. Pressure is in turn a product of the gas mass contained in a column of air above a unit surface area, and the planet’s gravitational effect on that mass.

It’s been a long and treacherous road involving many revisions and refinements of the original study. On several occasions the manuscript was rejected unread, but Ned and Karl have finally got their greatly improved and expanded paper published. This latest version is a tour de force strengthened by the rigors of criticism from an army of peer reviewers at several journals along the way.

Using dimensional analysis (a classical technique for inferring physically meaningful relationships from measured data), they show that the long-term global equilibrium surface temperature of bodies in the solar system as diverse as Venus, the Moon, Earth, Mars, Titan and Triton can accurately be described using only two predictors: the mean distance from the Sun and the total atmospheric surface pressure. This type of cross-planetary analysis using vetted NASA observations has not been conducted by any other authors. It represents the first and only attempt in the history of climate science to assess Earth’s surface temperature in the context of a cosmic physical continuum defined by actual planetary-scale observations. The result is a new insight that planetary climates are independent of the infrared optical depth of their atmospheres arising from their composition, and that the long-wave ‘back radiation’ is actually a product of the atmospheric thermal effect rather than a cause for it.

dimensional

The implications of this discovery are fundamental and profound! It turns out that gravity and the mass of a planetary atmosphere, rather than its composition, are the crucial factors in determining the uplift in temperature the surface enjoys compared to the temperature that the surface would have if there were no atmosphere above it. This means that human industrial activity cannot in principle affect the global climate, since we have no influence over the atmospheric mass.

Another implication is that the planetary albedo is largely an emergent property of the climate system rather than an independent driver of the surface temperature. A further key inference is that, on centennial timescales, Earth’s climate is rather stable, since the mass of the atmosphere changes relatively very slowly under the influence of solar wind and the gradual emissive and absorptive gas processes on Earth. Centennial variations of the cloud albedo on earth induced by fluctuations in solar magnetic activity are limited to surface temperature changes in the order of  ±0.65 K. This is because of stabilizing negative feedbacks within the system (e.g. a reduction of cloud cover causes surface warming, which in turn tends to increase evapo-transpiration, thus promoting cloud formation).

Ned and Karl’s published study brings to the attention of researchers the role of atmospheric pressure as a direct controller of planetary surface temperature. Pressure has been misunderstood in climate science for well over a century. The current greenhouse theory only allows for an indirect effect of pressure on ground temperature through the atmospheric infrared opacity via absorption line broadening. This is despite the fact that, in classical thermodynamics, gas temperature is known to be closely dependent on gas pressure. For example, the diesel engine harnesses this dependence (a.k.a. the principle of compression heating) into a practical technology we’ve been enjoying for 120 years. These points are well explained in this latest version of the paper.

To further validate their new model, Ned and Karl have made predictions for the surface temperatures of celestial bodies which have not yet been studied close up by probes, but are scheduled to be visited over the coming two decades. Theories live and die on the success and failure of predictions made from them, so kudos goes to Ned and Karl for sticking their necks out!

This expanded and revised version of Ned and Karl’s theory is outstanding in its comprehensive treatment of the subject, citing over 130 previous papers from the scientific literature. I highly recommend you download and read it at your leisure to fully appreciate the profound implications it has for our understanding of the physics of planetary atmospheres and the near-surface thermal enhancement hitherto known as ‘the greenhouse effect’.

___________________________________________________

Full paper available here

Footnote for Willis Eschenbach:
Math-illiterate amateurs won’t be responded to again unless they get their criticism published in a journal.  🙂

 

Comments
  1. Anders Rasmusson says:

    There are hydrocarbon lakes on Titan, mixtures of ethane and methane. The lakes are evaporating mainly methane to the atmosphere, ~4.9 % methane vapor the rest being nitrogen. Assuming the surface pressure is suddenly increased from the existing 147 kPa to 255 kPa, then the cloud amount is reduced letting in more sunshine to the surface. The surface, and lakes, temperature will increase to 98.6 K and then the methane concentration (cloud amount, albedo) will be at the same level as in the existing Titan atmosphere. The temperature calculated from equation 10 in the report of Nikolov and Zeller, is 98.8 K at 255 kPa.

    Venus is quite another story due to the very high surface temperature letting components to precipitate and evaporate in the atmosphere, without reaching the surface (virga). Calculating the Venus surface temperature by equation 10, results in 668 K instead of the actual 737 K.

    Mars is an ongoing example of rather high atmospheric pressure alterations, accomplished by CO2 phase changes. Airborn dust particles contribute with uncertainty to the albedo (together with virga), making calculations for Mars as above for the earth and Titan, rather uncertain. The pressure swings are described by F. Hourdin, P. Van, F. Forget, O. Talagran in “Meteorological variability and the annual surface pressure cycle on Mars”, Journal of Atmospheric Sciences, 50, 3625–3640, 1993).

    Kind Regards
    Anders

  2. […] Foundations of Greenhouse Theory Challenged by New Analysis of Solar System Observations […]

  3. Ned Nikolov says:

    Anders,

    I do not follow some of your points above. You say that Eq. 10 in our paper produces 668 K for the surface temperature of Venus. This is not correct – if you use the 9,300,000 Pa surface pressure for Venus, Eq. 10 reproduces precisely the observed 737 K surface temperature …

  4. Ned Nikolov says:

    In regard to the physical meaning of an average near-surface planetary temperature – such a meaning does indeed exists!. Because the temperature of a gas is linearly related to the internal kinetic energy of a gas measured in Joules and defined by the product PV (Pressure x gas Volume = Joules), the average temperature near the surface of a planet is a measure (a direct indicator) of the kinetic energy contained in the lower troposphere… Arithmetic averages are always physically meaningful if the the parameter being averaged is linearly related to an important state variable of the system (such as the amount of kinetic energy).

    By the same token, an average temperature does not represent an average energy flux, because the relationship between absolute temperature (K) and an energy flux (W m-2) is highly non-linear according to the S-B radiation law.

    I hope this helps resolve the debate about the meaning of average temperatures …

  5. Roger Clague says:

    Ned Nikolov says:
    July 3, 2017 at 5:01 am

    Because the temperature of a gas is linearly related to the internal kinetic energy of a gas measured in Joules and defined by the product PV (Pressure x gas Volume = Joules), the average temperature near the surface of a planet is a measure (a direct indicator) of the kinetic energy contained in the lower troposphere

    Pressure x volume = Kinetic energy ( joules)
    Pressure = energy/volume = J/m^3
    But gas pressure units are said to be lb/sq in or kg/m^2
    It is wrong to think gas pressure is like pressure in liquid or solid which is force /area = kg/m^2

    Pressure is 3d not 2d as for liquid and solid

  6. Ned Nikolov says:

    @Anders Rasmusson (July 3, 2017 at 6:38 pm):

    Anders, I’m glad you found the error in your calculations… You now probably understand why we’ve provided the regression coefficients at such a high precision (i.e. 5-6 digits after the decimal point). Since the P-T relationship in Eq. 11 is highly non-linear (due to the double-exponent terms), rounding the coefficients to a lower precision (by omitting some digits at the end) will result in large errors of predicted planetary temperatures … Based on comments we’ve received from official reviewers and laymen over the past 3 years, it appears that lots of people do not understand this important detail …

  7. wildeco2014 says:

    Pressure and density both decline exponentially with height and those two exponential terms combine to give rise to a linear decline in temperature with height as per the gas laws.
    That has long been well known in meteorology but completely ignored by radiative physics because it is a non radiative phenomenon involving conduction and convection.
    It is that relationship that gives rise to the observed mass induced greenhouse effect and NOT greenhouse gases.

  8. oldbrew says:

    Re pressure, density and temp: they only need to look at something like this. As SW says, well known in meteorology…
    http://www.digitaldutch.com/atmoscalc/graphs.htm

    … and by commercial airlines.
    http://www.universalweather.com/blog/2014/09/international-standard-atmosphere-how-it-affects-flight-understanding-the-basics/

    Quote: ‘ISA does not change by season or region of flight. It is only impacted when altitude decreases or increases. In the ISA model, the standard sea level pressure/temperature is 29.92 in. (1,013.25 mb) and 59°F (15°C). As atmospheric pressure decreases with height, the temperature will decrease at a standard lapse rate.’

  9. Ben Wouters says:

    oldbrew says: July 4, 2017 at 8:46 am

    Re pressure, density and temp: they only need to look at something like this. As SW says, well known in meteorology…
    … and by commercial airlines.
    http://www.universalweather.com/blog/2014/09/international-standard-atmosphere-how-it-affects-flight-understanding-the-basics/

    Does this nonsense never stop? Anyone who believes the adiabatic lapse rates have anything to say about the temperature profile of the atmosphere should stay out of any discussion about meteorology, climate etc.
    Again: the Dry Adiabatic and Moist Adiabatic Lapse Rates are O-N-L-Y valid for the temperature change vs altitude of RISING or SINKING air assuming the surrounding air is in Hydrostatic Euqilibrium and the process is adiabatic P-E-R-I-O-D.

  10. Roger Clague says:

    Unit of measurement of gas pressure

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pressure

    Pressure (symbol: p or P) is the force applied perpendicular to the surface of an object per unit area over which that force is distributed.
    and
    Since a system under pressure has the potential to perform work on its surroundings, pressure is a measure of potential energy stored per unit volume. It is therefore related to energy density and may be expressed in units such as joules per cubic metre (J/m3, which is equal to Pa).
    And
    Pressure acts in all directions at a point inside a gas. At the surface of a gas, the pressure force acts perpendicular (at right angle) to the surface

    Gas pressure inside a gas and gas pressure at a surface are physically different.
    J/m^3 = Nm/m^3 is algebraically equal to N/m^2 but physically different.
    Gas pressure at a surface N/m^2 is a special case of 3 dimensional gas pressure, J/ m^3 for 2 dimensional surfaces.
    .In atmospheric physics we are mostly interested in gas pressure inside the atmosphere gas. N/m^2 is wrongly used for pressure inside a gas J/m^3 as well as for gas pressure at a surface.

  11. Roger Clague says:

    wildeco2014 says:
    July 4, 2017 at 8:12 am

    Pressure and density both decline exponentially with height and those two exponential terms combine to give rise to a linear decline in temperature with height as per the gas laws.

    pressure/density = RT
    2 Identical exponential curves will produce a constant T.
    T/h has different shape to p/h because they have different causes

  12. Roger Clague says:

    oldbrew says:
    July 4, 2017 at 8:46 am

    Re pressure, density and temp: they only need to look at something like this. As SW says, well known in meteorology…

    http://www.digitaldutch.com/atmoscalc/graphs.htm

    Very different meaning they have different causes.

    https://www.digitaldutch.com/atmoscalc/tableatmosphere.htm

    This table is used to support the theory that the atmos obeys gas law.
    But the density figures are CALCULATED using the gas law.
    No-one AFAIK has measured densities of air at different heights.

  13. oldbrew says:

    I suspect they should have said ‘environmental lapse rate’ in my link above that Ben W referred to.

    Environmental lapse rate:

    This is the expected decrease in temperature with height through the lower atmosphere, approximately 6.5 degrees per 1000m. It varies according to height, time of year, and over different surfaces.

    http://www.s-cool.co.uk/a-level/geography/weather-conditions/revise-it/lapse-rates-and-microclimate

  14. Ben Wouters says:

    oldbrew says: July 4, 2017 at 10:07 pm

    I referred to the following nonsense:

    Lapse rates will vary if moisture is added. The dry lapse rate is about 5.5°F per 1,000 feet, and the moist lapse rate ranges (dependent on the amount of moisture) 2-3°F per 1,000 feet. The ISA model uses the standard lapse rate, which falls between these two lapse rates.

    The standard adiabatic lapse rate is where temperatures decrease at the following rates:

    Environmental Lapse Rate is better, but why not just use Temperature Profile when referring to the temperature profile of the actual atmosphere?

  15. Roger Clague says:

    Oldbrew

    The site you link to

    http://www.s-cool.co.uk/a-level/geography/weather-conditions/revise-it/lapse-rates-and-microclimate

    says that

    The environmental Lapse rate LR is the observed LR
    The adiabatic dry/wet LR is a concept in a theory of the cause of LR

  16. Ben Wouters says:

    oldbrew says: July 4, 2017 at 10:07 pm

    http://www.s-cool.co.uk/a-level/geography/weather-conditions/revise-it/lapse-rates-and-microclimate

    Mostly correct, apart from some mistakes in the diagrams.

  17. […] Foundations of Greenhouse Theory Challenged by New Analysis of Solar System Observations […]

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